charities, NGOs, non-profits, volunteer, grassroots, trade unions, Politics

Remember when I explained that in Britain people used “charity” in the way we use “NGO” — non-governmental organization? Well, today I remembered another word, non-profit!

In Spanish, “charity” sounds like an organization which is religious and does not strive for social justice but for assisting the poor juncturally, like when giving meals to the homeless (in Spain an example is Cruz Roja, the Red Cross). This work does not help in building a world where we would not have homeless people, but it’s valuable but it helps every individual to stop feeling hunger and suffer malnutrition. NGOs (examples are Amnesty International and Doctors without Borders), or many nonprofits/non-profits, while addressing (or not addressing, more rarely?) structural problems, they may also offer junctual relief.

In any case, I think it’s just in Britain where they use “charities” as we use “NGOs”. Does anyone have any other info on this? In any case, you need to find out what it means to the people you relate to. Just have a look at this, and then ask people around and see… You can post here what you think!

Anyway, for your Speaking Test at Spanish EOIs this is irrelevant — you can use any word and it would be OK, I suppose! These words may be handy in Speaking Tests (but don’t worry about the subtle differences in meaning, they would be interpreted as civil society organizations), for example when you get the situation of having a friend who is feeling low and another friend of yours and you talk about it to see if you come up with ideas to cheer him or her up. One of those ideas could be:

  • Candidate A: Chris could volunteer with an NGO / a non-profit. He/She loves to help people, and that would allow him/her to meet more people and possibly make new friends.
  • Candidate B: Great idea! This would also help her/him to get some work experience, in some way! You always learn lots of things when you volunteer!
  • Candidate A: You’re right! That would be positive for looking for a job!
  • Candidate B: And if he/she found a job, wow, that would certainly cheer him/her up!
  • Candidate A: Take five! Let’s go out for a drink and put the idea across to him/her!

Finally, the social movement includes groups that strive for all kinds of justice issues, and those are generally called grassroots — they are driven by a community’s politics, concerned with their communities, but for instance for feminists the community may be the species! So the traditional definition or idea needs some updating… What I do in my personal life as a feminist and a pacifist is more like this: I consider myself a grassroots activist, though because I’m an individualist (nonviolent) anarchist I tend to support many different groups but always keep my own personal analysis of things.

Trade unions, which are key for the social movement because they are a right social struggle achieved for the protection of workers, have undergone the same kind of evolution as some “big” NGOs who have ended up working mostly for the employers or the government. However, this should not involve we discarded trade unions and NGOs as tools for a better world. It is similar to not defending Politics as a better way to organize/organise societies (as compared to what organized societies before, so radically, Religion): in my view, we should fight for reclaiming Politics (though instead of party politics and representative democracy, I’d rather have assemblies — community decision-making — and direct democracy) while striving for justice wherever we can, because the organization of society is not easy and the new ways (politics instead of religion) have made our lives, especially women’s lives, worth living. (I’m saying this because of the harm corrupt people and their corruption are doing in politics and trade unions to this amazing human rights achievement! As we say in Spain, people are experts in “throwing stones on our own roofs!” that probably explains why we evolve so slowly towards a nonviolent juster world.

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